|Low-rise jeans indeed! More like low-tugged jeans! | (image source)|
"Lewd" and "vulgar" were two of the words reported to have been used in a Straights Time forum in August discussing the imagery. The site Stomp was also filled with debate. And why (when the rest of us are all used to chiseled abs and sexuality by A&F)? Because Singapore is actually a lot stricter than your common nation and, to that effect, has entities that protect "decency" in the city-state. And so the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) butted in. It decided that the photo plastered on the tourist traffic-heavy Orchard Road was "objectionable" on August 31 and called for a suspension of the promotional imagery on September 12 because the billboard made a "breach of the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice guidelines on decency." But its just too bad for the ASAS because they can not find a way to get A&F to pull it down. It's very funny. They're like bratty moralist children. They tried to see if the billboard was put up for A&F through an ad agency (that way they could get the agency to pull it down by complying to the code). Nope. They tried to get the Park Hotel Group, owners of Knightsbridge, to get it down. Nope. The only way to get it down is if Abercrombie & Fitch, which put up the billboard itself, actually puts it down...well that is not happening.
Abercrombie & Fitch is looking into the situation and the ASAS is trying to look for ways to get its way. On September 29, the MDA "voiced its support for the [ASAS]," but nothing has happened yet. The ASAS is still awaiting response from A&F. Supposedly, "photographic image exploits human nudity" can be subject to law under the Undesirable Publications Act.
But this is all very slow and stupid and ignorant. Why now after the damn thing has been up for months - the billboard has been there since June! - are they now making a big deal? Like Stewart told Marketing magazine, "What really surprised me was the speed of ASAS's responce. The ad's suspension was many weeks after it was posted, so it had already achieved the desired effect." Also, its artistic photography...not pornography. There is no indecency because the subject of the photograph is presented in an artistic manner. Like a nude statue Rome, which is riddled with them, if you will, except in photographic presentation. Sure Singapore is not Rome, but the point is that this is art. And yes, sensuality is intended, but it is art nevertheless and offends no one - there is no reason to be offended. Sure enough we must recognize the sensitivity of a culture but how "sensitive" can you be without bordering on ignorance and immaturity. Rayner Lim, a creative partner at Contagious called it "dangerous": "Can you imagine waiting at the junction for green light and a big grown man like me caught salivating at the chiseled abs." Well assuming he's heterosexual he wouldn't have to drool and if he is attracted then can he not have self-control? I mean really? And how old are you? Pathetic.
|Billboards on the facade of A&F Milan under construction in 2009.|
|Marketing - "conservative" by A&F standards - draped over the|
sleek and elegant facade of A&F Ginza in 2009.
In my conclusion, there is no reason to make such a big deal. It's beautiful. Yes, it is. And it's art. (As I have said countless times to make my point come across). If this is causing controversy in Singapore then what's next? Are there going to be complains over the photography of the Abercrombie & Fitch shopping bags carried all up-and-down Orchard Road by A&F customers?
Seriously. Let's be reasonable here. A&F Singapore opens December 15th! Stay FIERCE!
|A&F London, 2006.|
UPDATE: Abercrombie & Fitch has responded to the complaints! Read all about the latest news...FIERCE Sexuality in Singapore to Stay!